Jacob Sullum

But the politicians who take the misleading statements of public-health officials like Carmona and run with them cannot be bothered by the facts. New York Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining), who wants to ban smoking on playgrounds, recently told Newsday that "the scientific reports say that secondhand smoke has as much of a negative effect on your health as smoking directly."

Got that, kids? If your parents smoke, you might as well start smoking yourself; the health effects won't be any worse.

One of Galef's colleagues, Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette (D-Queens), said lighting up around children is worse than physical abuse. "They're both horrible things," Lafayette averred, "but one is going to kill the child."

As those remarks suggest, the next rationale for banning smoking in private residences may be child protection, which will allow the government to go after smokers in detached homes as well as apartments. Already several state and local jurisdictions have banned smoking in cars carrying minors.

Such laws raise the question of why legislators are ignoring the setting in which the vast majority of children's exposure to secondhand smoke occurs. Now that anti-smoking crusaders have crossed the threshold into people's homes, they are not likely to turn back.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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